Where is Lopburi?
Whenever I saw beautiful photos of flower fields on Instagram, they were almost always taken in Europe — from the purple dreaminess of lavender fields in France to the explosive colors of tulip fields in the Netherlands… I almost thought that flower fields only existed in Europe. Or at least, in countries where it’s not summer all year long.
Until one day — when a friend of mine, who’s a better Instagram stalker than myself, told me about a little province in Thailand called Lopburi. Lopburi is located 150 kilometers north of Bangkok and is the home to some of the most magnificent sunflower fields in Asia. I immediately decided that I had to check this place out. After all, Bangkok is just a 2-hour flight away.
When to Go
The sunflowers in Lopburi only bloom once a year, anytime between November and January. But there might be slight variations from one year to the next, and there’s no way of predicting whether the flowers will start blooming in early November or later. So, if you need to plan your dates early, I think your best bet would be to go in December, or a week before or after.
How to Get There
It’s easy to go to Lopburi by train from Bangkok, as there are 16 trains serving this route every day. The earliest one departs from Bangkok at 4.20 am and the last one is at 10 pm. Fares can vary greatly. For example, a third-class ticket on the Ordinary train costs only 28 baht while the Special Express costs 374 baht per person.
No prior booking is needed if you’re buying third-class tickets. Just turn up at Hua Lamphong Train Station about 30 minutes before the scheduled train and buy your ticket at the counter. As there will be no seat reservation, make sure you come early if you want to secure a nice seat by the window. The trip should take around two to three hours, depending on the type of train you choose. Visit the State Railway of Thailand’s official website to check the latest fares and timetables.
Apparently, for a more unique experience, you can also take a tourist train that actually goes through the sunflower field. The train will stop for a short while in the middle of the field to allow people to get down and take some pictures before continuing on its journey. However, it’s only available on select dates, and since I was unable to get much information about it online, I had to forego the idea. This is a picture of how it should look like though:
Another cheap option to go to Lopburi from Bangkok is by taking a bus from the Northern Bus Terminal in Mo Chit. The fare for an air-conditioned bus is around THB100 (USD2.60). Buses leave the station every 30 minutes and the journey will take around 2 – 3 hours. Alternatively, you can also take a minibus/van from Bangkok’s Victory Monument.
Please note that if you choose any of the options above, you will still need to take a taxi to the sunflower fields. Otherwise, if you’re willing to fork out extra cash for comfort and convenience, you can arrange for a private taxi to take you from Bangkok to Lopburi and back. Make sure you agree on the fare before getting into the taxi.
Renting A Car
Of course, another option (which is never feasible for me because I can’t drive, but which I’m obliged to mention on my blog anyway) is to rent a car. You have the freedom to start at any time of the day and make as many stops as you like along the way. However, do bear in mind that not all of the sunflower fields bloom at the same time. Taxi drivers usually know which fields to take you to. If you go by yourself, you have to figure this out on your own.
My Lopburi Sunflower Field Experience
I visited Lopburi on the 22nd of November last year. From my Airbnb in Punnawithi, I took the MRT to Hua Lamphong Station and bought the train ticket. Third-class train tickets cannot be booked online; they can only be bought at the counter.
That was my first time on a third-class carriage in Thailand. It was on the 9.25 am Ordinary train. There was no air-con. The fans were not helping much, but the windows could be opened for ventilation. If you’re going on a hot, sunny day, don’t sit on the right-hand side of the train unless you like being baked under the sun (I know we Asians don’t).
The journey took more than 3 hours. I reached Lopburi station at 12.40 pm. It was scorching hot outside. As I exited the train station, a taxi driver approached me and offered to take me to the sunflower field for 700 baht, with no time limit. He was the only taxi driver around.
My mistake was that I hadn’t done enough research to find out how much it should be or how far the fields were from the station. A taxi driver in Bangkok told me that it would take almost an hour from Lopburi station to the sunflower fields. And according to what I heard, there were several fields in Lopburi and a taxi driver would usually take you to a few, if not all of them. So, I thought 700 baht was a fair price.
As it turned out, however, the journey took little more than 20 minutes. And the ‘taxi’ was actually a truck. But it did take me to the sunflower field.
The sunflower field was HUGE. Acres and acres of big yellow flowers, slightly bowing down and all facing the same direction — towards me! I felt like a king, and all those flowers my subjects. Some were almost as tall as me. There were only a few other tourists in the field at that time and they were but tiny specks in the distance, so it felt as though I had the whole place to myself.
When I asked the driver about the other sunflower fields, he said they hadn’t bloomed yet. I’m not sure if he was only bluffing, but since I already had all the pictures I wanted, I saw no point in arguing. Of course, it was up to me to stay there till sunset if I wanted to, as there was no time limit. If I wasn’t in a hurry to return to Bangkok, I think I would have done that, but I had the Loy Krathong festival to catch.
So, he drove me back to the train station, offering to take me to the monkey temple along the way, which I declined, because I was still traumatized from being bitten by a monkey in Bali. But I did take a picture in front of a temple opposite the train station:
It was only 3 pm then. The next train to Bangkok was at 5.30 pm. I didn’t want to wait that long, so I took a minibus instead, which cost me 120 baht.
Tips for Visiting Sunflower Fields in Lopburi
- If you’re taking the train from Bangkok, sit on the left-hand side of the train.
- Remember that some of the seats are reserved for the elderly and monks. These are usually at the back of the carriage.
- Test the window at your seat to make sure that it can be opened, as some are permanently stuck. It can get really hot and stuffy with the window closed.
- There will be local vendors selling food and drinks on board in case you forgot to bring your own.
- If you get hungry after the train ride, there’s a small restaurant right in front of Lopburi train station.
- Before you get into the taxi, ask the driver how many sunflower fields are blooming that day. If there’s only one or if you specifically want to visit only one, try to negotiate for a lower fare, since the whole thing is probably not going to take more than an hour.
- Wear sunscreen, bring an umbrella or a hat, and lots of water, especially if you plan to spend a long time taking pictures in the fields. The heat can be unforgiving at midday.
Other Things to See in Lopburi
If you start early, it is also possible to visit these places on your day trip to Lopburi. Make sure you check with your taxi driver if visiting any of them can be included in the fare or if there will be additional charges.
- Prang Sam Yot Khmer Temple (a.k.a. the Monkey Temple) – A Khmer-era temple.
- Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat – 12th century ruins of walls, pagodas, and the town’s largest stupa. Monkey-free. Located right opposite the train station.
- Wat Sao Paolo – Built by the Portuguese in the 17th century. Located 2 kilometers away from town center.
- Phra Khan Shrine – An ancient shrine built in the Khmer period. Features colorful statues, and more monkeys. Located in the heart of town.
- Phra Narai Ratchaniwet (a.k.a. the King’s Palace) – The 17th century king’s abode that has been turned into a museum. Features a blend of Khmer and French architecture